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USFS LogoPORTLAND, Ore. June 8, 2015. A set of draft reports analyzing 20 years of monitoring data under the Northwest Forest Plan has been formally released by the Regional Interagency Executive Committee (RIEC) today. The reports, which summarize the latest periodic monitoring data gathered since 1994, with a focus on the last 5 years, are available at http://www.reo.gov/monitoring/reports/20yr-report/.

“The 20-year monitoring reports are an important data set for all of those impacted by the Northwest Forest Plan,” said Jim Peña, Regional Forester for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region and Chair of RIEC, the interagency group that oversees the NWFP. “Twenty years of monitoring demonstrates our commitment to adaptive management and fulfilling our commitment to the principles of the plan itself.”

 

In 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) Record of Decision amended and provided direction to 19 national forest and 7 Bureau of Land Management resource plans within the range of the northern spotted owl with the goal of maintaining healthy forest ecosystems alongside sustainable, predictable supplies of timber and other forest products. Since that time, an interagency monitoring framework has been used to track the status and trend of watershed condition, late-successional and old-growth forests, socioeconomic conditions, tribal relationships, and population and habitat for marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls—all to help answer questions about the plan’s effectiveness.

"The culmination of these monitoring reports is a testament to the interagency coordination and our commitment to the principles of the Northwest Forest Plan," said Jerome Perez, Bureau of Land Management State Director for Oregon and Washington.

It is too early to answer the question of how the information from the reports will be used in land management. The reports’ findings will be considered by the land management agencies, along with other new science and information, as the agencies move forward with plan revisions within the NWFP area.

Each monitoring report includes key summaries of the results for each monitoring module, methods, and a set of recommendations for monitoring into the future. The reports, which have undergone technical and peer review and are currently in production, will be published by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and Pacific Northwest Region and a peer-reviewed scientific journal in the coming months. The draft reports are accompanied online by two-page summaries of their key findings.

Key findings of the 20-year monitoring reports include:

·         Overall late-successional old-growth has decreased 3 percent on federal lands, with the biggest loss due to wildfire.
·         In Washington, there was a decrease of 4.6 percent per year in the population of marbled murrelet. Populations are stable in Oregon and California.
·         Nesting and roosting habitat for northern spotted owls on federal lands has decreased a net of 1.5 percent. Forest succession is resulting in habitat recruitment that has compensated for losses due to wildfire, timber harvest, and insects and disease.
·         The results for northern spotted owl populations will be released verbally at the forum because the findings are currently in peer review with a scientific journal.
·         No trends in watershed condition were established; but, overall, more watersheds are improving in condition than decreasing in condition.
·         Timber volume offered has fluctuated over the past 20 years. The volume of timber offered has been on a general upward trend since 2000, with volume offered in 2012 at about 80 percent of probable sale quantity identified in the NWFP.
·         Federal-tribal relations are more effective and meaningful when there is alignment in tribal and federal visions of what constitutes consultation, proper training of federal employees on tribal rights and the federal trust responsibility, and compatibility of tribal and federal land management.
Regional monitoring is conducted on an interagency basis, with results evaluated and reported in 1- and 5-year intervals. The last set of reports was published in 2010 and is available at http://www.reo.gov/monitoring/reports/15yr-report/index.shtml.

The report’s findings will be shared at a public forum in Vancouver, Washington, tomorrow— Tuesday, June 9, 2015—hosted by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal agency partners. The day-long public forum, which also will be broadcast live via webinar, will include a series of presentations on the reports’ key findings, followed by a panel session led by report authors for questions-and-answers. Learn more at http://www.reo.gov/save-the-date.

The RIEC is composed of regional directors from the various land management, regulatory, research, and other relevant agencies in the federal government located in northern California, western Oregon, and western Washington. The organization serves as the senior regional entity to assure the prompt, coordinated, and successful implementation of the NWFP at the regional level.

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